De Beque, Colorado: Twin Peaks

On an absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning, Sprocket and I set off to climb Twin Peaks (7400’+) above De Beque. On one of our De Beque Canyon Project drives we’d found a fairly major drill pad up towards Twin Peaks and I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be one that was going to be accessed during the winter and I was right! We drove right up and headed out.

I had a vague idea of how to go about getting to the summit but I have to admit that I could probably have done with more map and satellite imagery study before we left. I definitely broke trail up a gully … and at the top ran into the same road that we’d been on. (We took the road down and although it was a lot longer, breaking trail there would have been a lot easier).

Sprocket was not impressed with the foot deep snowshoe trench I was making for him. Although he was following the trench, he kept finding himself punching through to the sage below.

I chose to pretty immediately head for the ridge, aiming for the end of a cliff band on the south eastern end of the Twin Peaks ridge. I made pretty good progress through the trees but Sprocket wasn’t having a very good time. A few hundred feet shy of the ridge and about a mile from the true summit, he started whining and in short order made it clear he was not having a good time. There was no need to push the pup more than he was willing to do so we paused for a photo and headed back down the mountain.

The next morning, sans puppy companion, I headed right back up. I reasoned that I’d already trenched in a good chunk of the trail, had a hunch about a slightly higher parking spot, and not only learned about the road but had walked it down so now was as good of a time as any. Besides, it looks like it’s going to be pretty warm this week and the road was definitely better driven snow-covered than muddy.

Along the way, I rather impulsively decided to attain the ridge closer to the higher of the Twin Peaks rather than the spot I’d been aiming for with Sprocket reasoning that I wouldn’t have to walk over the lower summit, down to the saddle and then up.

I’m not sure that was the best plan. Going uphill in the trees was a lot easier than walking across a flat meadow and ascending a slope of sage, Mormon’s tea, and some unidentified leafless things. Unlike the trees that seemed to encourage compacted snow, these “fluffier” plans stood above pockets that compressed unexpectedly under my snowshoes.

Not really wanting to need to come back yet again, I pushed on. The summit looked so close and the ridge didn’t look THAT steep.

ha. Ha. Ha. Ha ha ha. Between the aforementioned plants plus the challenge of moving upwards in really fluffy not so kickable snow, it took me almost two hours to go the mile from where I left the road to the summit. (It had taken me 40 minutes to that point and only 1:10 from the summit all the way back to the car…)

Finally, I attained the ridge and realized it was all worth it. I could see all the way to the La Sal Mountains in Utah, way out onto Grand Mesa (even spotted Leon Peak!), an amazing view of the Battlements, and sweet views of the Roan Cliffs around me.

It didn’t take me long to walk up the ridge to the true summit. I’d worked hard to get to this summit but the whole time I felt capable, strong, and confident and on top of that, to be rewarded with this view? Amazing.

On the way out, I was tired but made good time. My pants were drenched and I was ready to get a shower ASAP!

Local Exploration: Baldy Peak Summit

A couple of weeks ago, Sprocket and I went for a hike on the slopes of Baldy Peak. We didn’t reach the summit as a result of a late start and insufficient calorie consumption by the biped of the duo…

Baldy Peak from Ridgway:

As is usual for me, not reaching the summit only fueled my desire to get there especially since it is visible from town. Valentine’s Day morning, I asked a friend to drop me off at the end of County Road 14 and started the hike. Looking north, I could see dawn on Horsefly Peak and still twilight shrouded valley south of Ridgway.

A lot of snow had melted between our attempt two weeks earlier and this one. There was no bare ground visible here last time:

Instead of sticking to the snowcovered trail, Sprocket and I forged a path upwards to the ridge through the scrub oak. I kept heading up and to the northeast and ended up with a route that was fairly direct.

We paused for me to take off a layer and to watch the sunrise over the hill across the small drainage:

Once we attained the ridge we began working our way north towards Baldy. The ridge was snow covered in places and bare in others. I did a lot of taking my snowshoes off and putting them back on as we headed for the summit.

It was another beautiful bluebird day. I sat on the top and contemplated the mountains surrounding me and was pretty content.

Sprocket and I headed off Baldy’s west ridge and began traversing north towards an abandoned road. There was a lot of bushwacking through deep snow—Sprocket was one tired puppy when we got done.

The snow was really wet and as I walked down the escarpment towards Highway 550, I was soaked, muddy, and quite pleased with my hike.

Vado: #tryingstuff in Colorado

I’m excited to welcome back Vado of Vado Porro to 3Up Adventures. She guest posted here while we were in Utah celebrating our wedding but she’s back with a great post about trying snowshoeing in Colorado.

When we planned our winter trip to Colorado, I promised my husband that we would finally, FINALLY!, go snowshoeing. Every season, we make up a to-do list and snowshoeing has been on for the last three years running, and we have never made it.

So when we booked a vacation trip to Keystone, I immediately made sure that snowshoeing was on the menu. It was, and it was very reasonably priced. The great thing about Keystone is that skiing is so outrageously expensive that everything else seems very reasonable. (It’s absolutely worth it to pay for the extremely expensive lift ticket, the skiing was phenomenal.)

On Monday morning, we drove over to the Nordic Center to get our snowshoes and head out. The first thing I became concerned about was that maybe I had dressed too warm. As soon as we got outside in our snowshoes, I knew I had. I’m not exactly sure the temperature, but I had on snowpants, fleece lined tights, a fuzzy undershirt, a fleece, and a parka, plus gloves and a hat. I overheat extremely quickly as soon as I break a sweat, so I wish I had just worn thin long johns, snowpants, an undershirt and the parka. You move the entire time you are snowshoeing, so it isn’t like skiing where you dress a bit warmer for the lift and don’t overheat. I also recommend sunglasses because it’s really bright if the snow is reflecting on the mountains.

Once we got to the place, we were offered two options for footwear – wear our own boots, or rent nordic shoes. We opted to rent, because my hiking boots are not super waterproofed. I was very glad we made that decision because the snowshoe boots were much more flexible and lighter weight. They offered us poles and we opted to take them – definitely take the poles! They showed us how to attach the snowshoes to our feet, we loaded my cousin up with his daughter in the carrier, and then we were on the road.

I thought, for some reason, that snowshoeing would be like running or skiing, or really like skating, with sliding on the snow. It’s not. It’s just hiking in the snow and you don’t fall down or through the snow. It was beautiful and a lot of fun to walk out over three or four feet of fresh powder and not sink all the way down. We went up a really steep hill, had some trouble with the course, but overall it was a fun enough experience that we decided we would happily repeat it for a longer excursion, perhaps with a picnic lunch and a LOT more water. (Bring a Camelbak. I really regretted not having mine.)

Hiking: Willow Creek

The sun finally shone in Mullan on Sunday! Forrest had to work so Sprocket and I headed out for some fun. We rode the quad up Willow Creek Road as far as we could before being stopped by snow. I pulled out my snowshoes and up the road we went; I was glad to have them. The snow was plenty firm in the shade but what can only be called slush in the sun—by the end of the hike even Sprocket, the biggest snow walking devotee ever had given up on it.

After alternating between snow and exposed dirt for awhile we came to a junction. Having not been up this way before I wasn’t totally sure which way we should head to get to Stevens Lakes but before I could think about it too hard I spotted a large tank of some kind in the creek. Around here, debris like that indicates that there was mining activity. It didn’t take me too long to look around and see some more metal scraps and then the dead giveaway lush moss that grows at the opening of flooded mines. This one looked really intact!


After we’d checked out the mine shaft (it was hard to convince Sprocket he shouldn’t go swim in there!) we headed up the trail again. As I was walking down the trail/road, Sprocket desperately wanted to jump up this bank. He always catches up so I kept walking but he kept trying to get up on the bank; looking back to see what was going on I saw the trail sign pointing up a tiny switchback hard to pick out in the spotty snow that lead to the top of that bank. Sprocket wins.

It wasn’t too long though before we reached a scree slope and the two of us together just couldn’t find the trail on the other side and decided to turn around. When I got home, I found out that we’d been within three quarters of a mile from the lake that was my “unstated” goal for the hike. I’m sure it would have been really pretty! I’ll probably try again in the next week or so.

It felt really good to get out and wander with Sprocket and hike around. And the scenery? It wasn’t too bad either.

Shhh…It might be spring…

Saturday morning we headed for the cabin. The weather was absolutely beautiful. It was one of the first days that really felt like spring around here.

Because this is what spring looks like in North Idaho

I was in no hurry to get up to the cabin (other than the fact I was thirsty because I left my water bottle on the seat of the jeep…) because the sunshine felt so so good. I was hiking in a tshirt and UnderArmor! It was 50 degrees!

A glance at the cabin indicates the crazy amount of melting we need to happen before we can drive to the cabin. I’m accepting bets on when we’ll be able to


Moose on the Loose

After a very lazy Sunday morning, Forrest finally coaxed me out for a “short snowshoe.” The short snowshoe turned into a survey of the south-east and south-west perimeters of the 4th of July mining claim above Burke.

But we saw a moose!

And I might have caused a small avalanche…

Gorgeous sunshine, easy hiking, and hanging out with the boys.

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.